BlogStudyEverything You Need to Know About VCE SACs and How They Work

Everything You Need to Know About VCE SACs and How They Work

Students studying for assessments - VCE SACs

If you’ve spoken to anyone who has completed the VCE, they’ll talk about managing SACs and other coursework.

But what exactly are SACs, and how important are they in VCE? We’ll guide you through all things SAC-related, and what it will mean for your VCE journey.

Let’s get started!

Overview of VCE SACs
What types of assessments do VCE SACs involve?
How important are Unit 1 and 2 SACs?
How important are Unit 3 and 4 SACs?
What happens if I fail one of my VCE SACs?
VCE Practice SACS

Overview of VCE SACs

SACs, or School-assessed Coursework, are assessment items that you will complete throughout VCE, across all of Units 1-4. In the VCE study design for each subject, there are a set of outcomes. Each SAC will contribute towards completion of a particular outcome.

For example, let’s consider Unit 4 Biology. If we look at the study design, we’ll see that this is one of the outcomes:

Outcome 1 for VCE Biology Unit 4

In order to successfully pass this outcome, you will complete SACs that assess your knowledge of this topic.

But what does this mean in the grand scheme of things? In simpler terms:

  • For Units 1 and 2, SACs will determine whether you pass or fail a unit
  • For Units 3 and 4, SACs will also contribute to your study score

Confused about how some VCE subjects “scale” better than others? Check out the top 15 highest scaling VCE subjects and how scaling works here!

What types of assessments do VCE SACs involve?

The specific assessment task you complete will depend on the subject and your school. The best way to know what tasks you will do is to ask your teacher.

However, the study design for each subject can also give you some idea of what types of tasks you might complete.

Let’s take a closer look at Unit 4 Biology again:

VCE Biology Unit 4 Outcomes and Tasks

Based on this, you might be completing a 50-70 minute written test or perhaps a 10 minute oral presentation. Some SACs will be broken down into smaller partsfor example, you might complete 3 smaller tests, all of which contribute to the outcome.

If we scroll down a little and check the next outcome…

VCE Bio outcomes

You can see that you will conduct an investigation and design a poster for Outcome 3, so this will be one of your SACs. 

Depending on the subject and the school, there are many types of assessments that you might need to complete. Other types of assessments that you might complete include, but are not limited to:

  • Writing essays and reports
  • Musical performances
  • Recording notes and submitting a logbook

Need help with working through your VCE SACs? Get in touch with our Melbourne tutoring team!

How important are Unit 1 and 2 SACs?

For the purposes of completing your VCE, Units 1 and 2 are only considered on a pass/fail basis. What this means is that as long as you pass all Unit 1 and 2 SACs, that is the only requirement for successfully completing Units 1 and 2.

Now, this does not mean you shouldn’t try to do well! In fact, a lot of SACs in Unit 1 and 2 are intended to prepare you for Units 3 and 4. This means that if you do well in Units 1 and 2, this will help you do well in Units 3 and 4 as well.

Likewise, if you don’t do so well in Units 1 and 2, you may consider this when you decide what Unit 3/4 subjects to complete.

Feeling a little uneasy about preparing for your first SAC? Check out our guide to preparing for your first VCE SAC here!

How important are Unit 3 and 4 SACs?

In Units 3 and 4, SACs will also contribute to your study score. This means that the better your SAC marks, the higher your study score. There are a lot of complexities with this – but we’ll go through everything that you’ll need to know.

Contribution to Study Score

Some SACs will be worth more to your study score compared to others. To check how much SACs matter, check the study design for your respective subject.

Let’s switch over from Biology to Unit 3 English. The relevant page of the study design is page 22 (pictured below).

VCE English Study Design Unit 3

Image sourced from VCAA

From here, we can see that in total, your Unit 3 SACs contribute to 25% of your final study score.

There are 100 marks allocated to Unit 3 (if you ever hear about “VCAA marks” this is what people are talking about). Of these marks, the individual assessments for Outcome 1 are worth 30 VCAA marks each, but the assessment for outcome 2 is worth slightly more at 40 VCAA marks. 

To see where this might matter, consider the following example:

Study score total examples

Both these students achieved 80% in two SACs, but 60% in another SAC. However, student 1 earns more VCAA marks because they performed better in SAC 3, which has more marks allocated to it. 

Statistical Moderation and Auditing

Recall that schools set their own SACs. You might be wondering — what if my school sets harder SACs? 

Don’t worry! VCAA will perform moderation and auditing to ensure SACs are fair and reasonable.

Statistical moderation is where VCAA will change your SAC scores depending on how well your school does in the final exam(s). For example, if your school does well in the exams, your SAC scores will be moderated higher.

This might happen if your school sets hard SACs, and is a way of ensuring that SAC scores reflect how well you know your content, rather than how hard the SAC was. 

More specifically, rather than being assigned SAC scores, you’re given ranks by your school. The student with the top rank at their school will have their SAC scores changed to the highest score achieved by the school in the exam, even if this is a different student.

The same is performed for the upper quartile, median, lower quartile, and lowest rank (i.e. better than 75%, 50%, 25% and 0% of other students respectively), with all other students being assigned marks based on this.

The below diagrams help illustrate how this works.

Statistical moderation

Image sourced from VCAA

Moderated scores

Note: Keep in mind moderation is different to study score scaling. 

Auditing is something you probably won’t have to worry about. However, VCAA will occasionally perform audits (or checks) to see if schools are setting fair SACs. This will mean that you should expect that your school will give you SACs that, even if challenging, are still reasonable.

What happens if I fail one of my VCE SACs?

If you fail a SAC, don’t stress — it’s not the end of the world. Schools will usually have their own process about what will happen specifically. This could involve being asked to complete a redemption task.

Though you might keep the score of your original SAC (for the purposes of study score calculation), a redemption task might allow you to successfully pass a SAC and therefore, pass the unit.

You should always reflect on your own performance, and think about how you could bounce back to ensure you nail your next SAC!

Not sure if you’ve prepared for everything for your VCE Maths Methods Unit 1 and 2 Practice SACs? Check out our post here!

Tips on Achieving SAC Success

Here are a few of our top tips to prepare for SACs!

  • Know what’s on your SAC  will it be a multiple choice test? Essay? Something else? Also be sure to know what content will be covered!
  • Work smarter, not harder! Sure, you could do 5 practice SACs and call it a day, but it’ll be better if you do 1 under SAC conditions, and see exactly where you went wrong!
  • SACs are stressful — but stress can be good! This is easier said than done, but knowing how you function under stress, as well as how to channel stress into positive energy, are things that can improve your SAC performance. One way to do this is to think of SACs as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, rather than a threat to your VCE success.
  • Stay healthy! Burnout is a real problem, so be sure to look after yourself.

Check out how to have a productive holiday before beginning your VCE exams here!

On the hunt for some VCE practice SACs?

Check out some of the ones we’ve created below:

Biology

Business Management

Legal Studies

Psychology

Here are our guides to acing your end of year exams:

Are you looking for some extra help with preparing for your VCE SACs?

We have an incredible team of VCE tutors and mentors!

We can help you master the VCE study design for your subjects and ace your upcoming VCE assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online!

We’ve supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 20%! Find this level of support with one of our local Footscray VCE tutors!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational VCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!


Kevin Chen recently completed his Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. He is now undertaking an Honours year, where he is investigating the rise of hospital superbugs. Kevin lives by the motto “smiles go for miles!”

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